With a new album, Darkadelic, their 12th to be released on 28 April, The Damned hit the road for a 14-date UK tour. MetalTalk caught up with them at the Brighton Dome. So, what did we learn? The Damned are still one helluva band, and despite the years under their belts, they are more than capable of holding their own with the young up-and-coming bands.
Brighton Dome – 17 April 2023
Words: Adrian Stonley
Photography: Robert Sutton
This is a band who wear their years on the road on their battered and sweat-stained sleeves with pride. They know what they are good at, and they do it. There are no frills, and they’re a hard-working band that knows what the people want.
Or do they? That was the question raised before tonight’s show, with eleven of the twelve songs from their new album featured. Would this be too much for their long-time fans, particularly as the album is currently unreleased, so this was the first hearing for the majority?
Well, the answer to that was very clear. Despite the high percentage of new material on show, it was well received, and clearly, from the reactions, this is an album that has the potential to become a favourite and provide a large percentage of their set for a few years to come.
The Damned are a band that has reinvented themselves on a number of occasions over the years, and though now musically a fair way from their early punk roots, they show why they have survived the years and are more than capable of putting on a great show. Albeit it was clear that when they rolled the clock back to those early days, the audience hung on every note and every drop of angst and vitriol, even if the young punks are now, well, ageing.
Kicking off with Street Of Dreams from the Phantasmagoria album, the band hit the stage with clear intent and the audience was there from the first note worshipping at the dark altar of Messrs Vanian and Sensible.
They followed this with the first of the new songs, The Invisible Man indicating the evening intent, before following up with crowd favourites Wait For The Blackout and Lively Arts, which were unsurprisingly well received.
The big test for the band was then how the audience would react when they introduced the new album Darkadelic and then proceeded to play nine songs from the album back-to-back. Would this be too much for the faithful? Would the interest wane? Would the bar be too much of a temptation? Well, the answer to these questions was a resounding NO.
It was clear that the Damned are still more than capable of writing and performing great rock songs. The new numbers fitted into the set perfectly, and the majority of the audience were treated to forty minutes of entirely new and unheard material, and they received and reacted to it as though they were old favourites. Tonight, the Damned could do no wrong.
The new material on first hearing comprised a series of well-crafted hard rock songs. There was a generous degree of variation throughout, and yet the band’s humour still showed through, particularly on Beware Of The Clown, which saw Vanian and the Captain wearing clown noses. Western Promise, at times, had an almost Doors feel, with Monty Oxymoron let loose on the keyboards. Certainly, in the past bands such as The Doors and The Damned would unlikely have been mentioned in the same sentence, yet now the musicality is such that the band are just as capable of standing alongside such luminaries.
Leader Of The Gang was a tongue-in-cheek glam rock song, with crew members dressing up with more than a nod to a much-disgraced ’70s glam rocker, and it was in numbers such as these that it was possible to see a band clearly enjoying themselves. Despite the bemoaning that they were still touring at their age, it was obvious that this is a band who have no intention of standing down at any time in the near future. Why should you when you’re having such a good time, and it was clear that the feel-good resonance was reciprocated between both band and audience.
The main set finished with a nod back to the early years with old favourites such as Born To Kill (dedicated to Brian Jones), Love Song and an extended Neat Neat Neat getting the audience pogoing (those who still could anyway) and the mosh pits opening.
With a couple of minutes breather, they were back for the first of a couple of encores with fan favourite, the Barry Ryan cover, Eloise and Sensible penned Smash It Up with its gentle guitar intro evolving into full-scale on-floor carnage. These days the reaction is fun. Thankfully, the bad old days of fights and spitting have gone and been replaced with sheer audience effervescence.
With the crowd buzzing there was no alternative than for a further return for a second encore, with the band briefly dipping back into the new album with Girl I’ll Stop At Nothing before the inevitable question of ‘Is She….Is she really going out with him?’ triggered a further mosh pit and surge from the seats onto the floor for New Rose.
Did we learn anything? Certainly. The Damned has still got ‘it’, the fans still love ‘it’, and there is a very strong album about to be released to an unsuspecting world. The Damned are a band with as much relevance and irreverence as ever.
• Street of Dreams [Phantasmagoria]
• The Invisible Man (Darkedelic)
• Wait for the Blackout [non album track issued as single prior to the black album
• Lively Arts [Black Album]
• Bad Weather Girl (Darkedelic)
• You’re Gonna Realise (Darkedelic)
• Western Promise (Darkedelic)
• Beware of the Clown (Darkedelic)
• Wake the Dead (Darkedelic)
• Follow Me (Darkedelic)
• Motorcycle Man (Darkedelic)
• Leader of the Gang (Darkedelic)
• From Your Lips (Darkedelic)
• Born to Kill [Damned Damned Damned]
• Love Song [Machine Gun Etiquette]
• Second Time Around [Black Album]
• Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow [Evil Spirits]
• Neat Neat Neat [Damned Damned Damned]
• Eloise (Barry Ryan cover) [Anything]
• Smash It Up (Part 1 & 2) [Machine Gun Etiquette]
• Girl I’ll Stop at Nothing (Darkedelic)
• New Rose [Damned Damned Damned]
- Vocals: Dave Vanian
- Lead Guitar: Captain Sensible
- Bass: Paul Gray
- Drums: Will Taylor
- Keys: Monty ‘Oxymoron’ Burrow